The event, which was part of the Career Development Centre’s Employability Month, opened with a screening of the film The Art of Resilience, which was produced by student Raghad Mardini. Raghad studies on the Museums, Galleries and Contemporary Culture MA course.
After that, the book Syrian Art in Hard Times 2012-2015 was launched. There were also short speeches from the artists as well as Raghad’s tutor. The visitors then got to sample Syrian food, music and art.
The event aimed to enhance students’ employability through social enterprise. Raghad Mardini set up the Art Residence Aley (ARA) in Lebanon, which gives young Syrian artists a place to hone their skills.
Speaking about the event, Raghad said: “I was deeply touched by all the support that I received from the University of Westminster, the Students Union and the Career Development Centre during the preparations for my event, especially by the compassion and empathy from everyone I have worked with.
“It all contributed to my dream project of starting a social cultural enterprise in London to advocate for Syria through art, music, food, literature, poetry and films. The success of this event gives me the strength to face all the difficulties and challenges to continue pursuing this project.”
David Shacklady, Director of Student Affairs, said: “Celebrate Syria was a truly inspiring event that gave us a counter narrative of hope to what we see daily in the news.”
A student who attended the event said: “What interested me the most about the event is the way in which the artist’s portrayed pain and martyrs into something really divine. The shroud blew me away. The inspiration of the artist Ameen was breath-taking.”
Another student said: “I truly thought that the movie was inspiring as there is not much in the media about Syrian art that we know about. This opens our eyes to what the people are doing, and the art itself is actually amazing. Art is a way of expression; like Farah said, it releases the pain and sadness.”